Flying to Canada.

While, for an experienced pilot, doing this might not be a big deal, but for a new aviatrix, crossing any border is a challenge.

This past year, I’ve looked for any reason to fly.

First, I took my husband hours away for a pancake breakfast.

Then, I started flying to work and picking up hard-to-ship “project parts” for my husband along the way.

I spent a perfect spa weekend with friends at Kohler’s Resort.

And finally, I seized a day and flew with my son to an “Alma Mater” for a college tour.

I’m not including my “right seat” time in Hawaii  with a good friend, and fellow new aviatrix / award-winning website designer.

Besides that, I have only flown in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa

Due to the normal flying barriers of time, money and weather, the distance I fly from my home base has remained limited.

Yet the “circle” has grown and because of that I have gotten more at ease flying farther away from home.

 So, with some anxiety, though mostly excitement, I am planning on flying to Canada to visit family for Canadian Thanksgiving!

 getting comfortable flying farther from home

Deena Schwartz at Osh18 in front of EAA Canada Flag

New Aviatrix Flying to Canada!

First of all, I scoured the internet for info about flying to Canada and watched hours of YouTube flight videos.

The AOPA  website is a very good source.

Next, I sought advice from many pilot friends and fellow 99s.

 Finally, I had an opportunity to speak with Ian Brown of the EAA Canadian Council at EAA Oshkosh this year.

He gave me a wealth of great information.

As a result, most of what follows is piecemealed from Ian Brown as well as AOPA.

It seems like I have my ducks in a row now.

Flying to Canada & Back

My goal: Flying to Canada (and back) without fighter jets.

 Thereby spend a lovely Thanksgiving with family.

Below is everything I know about flying to Canada, so far.

Please feel free to comment.

Flying Rules

 USA versus Canada

Airspace Rules are similar, however….

The concepts are the same but the details are different so,

*****Please read this Canadian Airspace article © AeroTransport Publications 2015*****

It has everything you need to know about airspace rules in Canada.


VFR Flight Plan

1-800WXBRIEF    1-866WXBRIEF  

(US)                (Canada)

Within the borders of the US & Canada we can fly freely.

In the US, a VFR flight plan is not required, though it’s a good idea,

similarly, a VFR flight plan in Canada consists of “letting someone know”.

Most importantly, the US and Canada require a flight plan to cross the border. This is mandatory.

Pilots crossing the U.S. border must have an ATC  squawk code.

Therefore, all aircraft must be on an active IFR, VFR, or Defense VFR flight plan if you are flying through the ADIZ from Alaska.

All aircraft must make their first landing at a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) airport of entry.


Crossing Border Airspace

An Electronic Advanced Passenger Information System (eAPIS) manifest is required anytime a flight plan includes crossing a border and landing in another country

 eAPIS is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Web-based system that collects and transmits traveler data for travel in to and out of the United States. eAPIS passes electronic manifests to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).

eAPIS offers users:

  1. The ability to submit traveler manifest data via onscreen entry.
  2. The receipt of a submission number from CBP confirming the successful delivery of the manifest data.
  3. The option to re-use a Recent Manifest.
  4. The option to re-use a Saved Manifest.
  5. The ability to upload electronic manifest files that conform to a specific format.
  6. The ability to print a manifest.


Americans can overfly Canada airspace to/from Alaska without eAPIS but a flight plan is required.

(Write “Canada overflight” in the remarks section of the flight plan.)

Similarly, as long as no landing occurs,

Canadians can overfly US airspace e.g. to Maritimes without eAPIS or passport/Canpass but a flight plan is required


Basic Med

 Pilots cannot fly in Canada with Basic Med yet. It is not ICAO compliant


Circuit Entry

USA – 45 degree downwind entry is common

compared to

Canada – 45 degree entry not usually done (requested)

(Overfly the field and teardrop to the downwind leg.  Fly straight in or enter on base to final)


 General Aircraft Info 

All aircraft are required to show proof of insurance in Canada

  • Certified Aircraft: Aircraft that have an airworthiness certificate equal to US standard airworthiness certificate may fly in the U.S. and Canada by the owner or with the owner’s permission. (document required).
  • Experimental/ Homebuilt/ Amateur built or Canadian Ultralight: These aircraft required to carry a Special Flight Authorization (SFA)    No other permission required. Streamlined SFAs are available from the FAA and Transport Canada (TC).
  • S. Ultralight aircraft: Because they are not registered, they cannot get blanket authority to operate in Canada. Special authority from TC is required and “may be granted on an individual basis.
  • S. LIGHT SPORT ( LSA ): A pilot medical certificate is required to operate a U.S. registered LSA in Canada which requires the U.S. pilot to be the holder of at least a PPL.   Carry a Standardized Validation Document on board the aircraft at all times.

Canadian Fees

 Major Transport Canada airports and some Local airports charge Terminal Landing Fees (usually in the range of $15 – $40 CDN) 

NAVCAN user fee $72/year or $17.85/quarter (CDN) for use of ATC

NAVCAN will send an invoice in the mail

 Checklists for Border Crossing Planning 

Pilot and Passenger Checklist

All required documents:  License/Certificate/Medical Certificates/Passports 

for  Pilot, Crew, Passengers should be current and original – no copies!  

Visa Document – if required (not for US or Canadian citizens)

Obtain/Carry a notarized letter from non-traveling parent if traveling with a minor

Register for CANPASS

         Frequent Canada-US flyers may enroll in the CANPASS program. 

Although, CANPASS is not required,  it can shorten travel time and may be more convenient than flying to an airport of entry where customs is open

As a CANPASS – Private Aircraft member, your private aircraft can:

  • land at any airport of entry (AOE) in Canada even if customs is closed;
  • land at a CANPASS-only airport, which may be nearer to your destination;
  • receive expedited clearance; and
  • proceed to the final destination if there is no CBSA officer waiting for the aircraft by the reported time of arrival, without the pilot having to make a second call to the CBSA after landing.  CANPASS allows you to clear customs by phone.

         The fee is $40 and valid for 5 years.

         Takes about two weeks to 6 weeks to arrive

         ***  Every passenger must be registered with CANPASS to use it for a flight ***

Create eAPIS account 

         Advance Passenger Information System

eAPIS is used to produce a flight “manifest” of the aircraft, the people and the trip.

          It is needed both to enter and leave the USA

         First, register on line and allow up to 5 days for approval. You will receive an ID  number which you use each time you file an eAPIS Manifest.  Once you have your Account ID,  then register info about aircraft, pilot etc. You’ll need passports/addresses/dates of birth

       Lastly, create/save a manifest for a specific flight.  It needs to be used in conjunction with a flight plan with a border crossing time estimate.

          U.S. eAPIS Manifests must be filed at least 1 hr before departing from or arriving in the U.S. but may be filed in advance

         Most noteworthy, failure to file eAPIS manifest is subject to a $5000 fine for the 1st violation.

Register with the FCC 

(Universal Licensing System) Obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN)

File On-line for FCC (Pilot) Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Certificate 

Certificate Fee is $70 – no expiration

Aircraft Checklist 


Charts, Canada Flight Supplement, FAA AFD, AIM (Foreflight or equivalent)

Two way radio

ELT 121.5 MHz or 406MHz

Survival Equipment –  for the region and season.

A fire extinguisher is required.

 Aircraft that are not Mode C Transponder or Two-Way Radio equipped require a TSA waiver for all international flights

In order to obtain a waiver, first create an account. Then, wait  5 days for account approval plus 7 days for waiver approval


ARROW:  Required on board

  1. Airworthiness Certificate
  2. Registration Certificate  (temporary certificate not acceptable)   If the aircraft is registered to someone other than the pilot, it’s recommended to travel with a notarized letter from the owner granting authorization for the use of the plane
  3. Radio Station License
  4. Operating limitations   including the Standardized Validation of a Special Airworthiness Certificate (for Canada), or Special Flight Authorizations (for operation in the US)
  5. Weight and Balance info 


Register with DTOPS 

Decal and Transponder Online Procurement Center

Buy a US Customs Decal – $27.50

First, you’ll need to register.  Next, register the aircraft.  Then, request the sticker.

Finally, when the sticker arrives, attach it somewhere near where you enter the aircraft.

You can purchase a sticker when you land in a US port of entry, as a result, however, it will delay your departure .

The decal is specific to your aircraft. One per year needed


File On-line – FCC (Aircraft) Radio Station License

License Fee is $170  – valid for 10 years


Verify Insurance coverage/Canada requires Proof of Insurance 

– Up to 2300 lbs. – $100,000 public liability

– 2301 – 5000 lbs. – $500,000 public liability

– 5001 – 12500 lbs. – $1,000,000 public liability/ $300,000 liability per passenger


Aircraft with fuel tanks installed in the passenger or baggage area must have FAA Form 337 on board

 Crossing Borders and Learning to Fly Further 

Finally, all of the “legal” stuff for flying to Canada is done.

Therefore, my flight planning begins.

It’s nice to have a mission.

Having “a why” does certainly push me to move into new and uncomfortable space.

Uncomfortable?   Yep.  But I push myself for the simple reason that I know it’s the only way I’ll grow.

Certainly, my plane has become my teacher.

Nothing in my life has ever boosted my energy and spirit more than the excitement of going after something that I thought might be just beyond my reach. Whatever I have done in my life, including my plans to cross the Canadian border, above it all, I’ve found that working hard for a defined purpose has always taught me way more than I had expected.  Consequently, I’ve learned to seek projects and adventures that are just a little bit bigger than me.   Thus, when I finally get my head, heart and hands around whatever my goal is, the resulting smile you see is coming from every ounce of me.

I know I’ll learn something surprising from flying to Canada. I don’t know what it is yet. That’s pretty exciting!

Ask me how my flying is going and I’m sure I simply show you this:

Me with a big ‘ole smile!


Flying through life with courage and intention.